Students’ talents drive UIC Motorsports to Chicago Auto Show
When you visit the shiny new cars and trucks at this year’s Chicago’s Auto Show, stop to take a look at the future: UIC Motorsports, the College of Engineering’s student chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers.
It’s not just UIC Motorsports’ two creations – the Baja and Formula cars, located on the south side of the show behind the Subaru booth.
It’s the 130 student members themselves, who spend long hours building and testing the vehicles for international competition.
UIC Motorsports is like a design firm, its members say.
“We do everything from design to prototype to manufacturing to competing, all within the student body of the group,” said Justin Czok, a senior in electrical engineering and the electrical assistance team leader.
This is the third year at the auto show for UIC Motorsports. The group was asked to participate after engineering student Adam Miszta, chapter president at the time, contacted David Sloan, president of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and general manager of the Chicago Auto Show.
“The first year there went really well,” said Michelle Sentevski, a senior in mechanical engineering and the Baja team captain for the 2015 model. “We met a lot of people, and we made the auto show know that it wanted us back.”
The appearance at the auto show is not only important for sponsorship attention, but as an opportunity to promote UIC’s chapter, give members the chance to practice public speaking and teach kids who come to the show about engineering.
“And it’s fun to meet industry professionals and other enthusiasts,” Sentevski said.
Sentevski also has a personal agenda.
“There need to be more females in engineering,” she said. “So reaching out to high school-age, or even younger, females who haven’t considered it as a career yet because it’s a male-dominated field, is a huge motivator for me.”
Each year, UIC Motorsports’ display at the show has become more elaborate.
“We took it from what was just a club having a little spot at the auto show to something that looked professional,” Sentevski said.
Most of those in UIC Motorsports are engineering majors, but Sentevski and Czok said the group welcomes all students.
“We really are open to anybody,” said Czok. “We have that business proposal to prepare for, and sometimes engineers aren’t the greatest to do that.”
The group also needs members to help with social media or photography, added Sentevski.
The chapter participates in Baja and Formula competitions, where teams from across the globe pitch car models to industry professionals. The Baja is an off-road vehicle that can endure rugged terrain; the Formula is a track car. The vehicles are judged on business presentation, design, cost and performance.
Members work long hours at the UIC Machine Shop to create next year’s models, getting hands-on experience.
“The shop gives students a chance to learn the manufacturing,” Sentevski said. “This really partners well with our classroom education, to teach us manufacturing, design and the business aspect.”
To join UIC Motorsports, apply online at sae.uic.edu or come to a meeting. The Formula team meets Mondays at 5 p.m. and the Baja team on Wednesdays at 5 p.m., both in 1208 Science and Engineering Laboratories West.
The Chicago Auto Show is open through Feb. 22 at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Martin Luther King Dr. Discount tickets are available for $10 at the UIC Bookstore in Student Center East or the UIC Medical Bookstore in Student Center West; limit two tickets per i-card. The bookstores are open weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.